After Mother Teresa died, officials preparing her sainthood cause discovered a small cache of letters written to her spiritual directors and superiors during her early years. She had long ago destroyed her notes and diaries from this period and had asked others to dispose of letters she had sent to them. “I want the work to remain only his,” she told them. “When the beginning will be known, people will think more of me, less of Jesus.”

As if following some divine script, a few ignored her wishes. As a result, it is now possible for us to partially reconstruct the high spiritual drama of Mother Teresa’s conversion to the poor.

A Voice on a Train

In early 1947, four months after hearing the voice on the train, she wrote to Ferdinand Perier, a Jesuit who was archbishop of Cal­cutta. In this letter, she made her case for why he should allow her to undertake a new initiative among the poor, describing at length the voice she heard on the train and in the days and weeks that followed.

“I want Indian Missionary Sisters of Charity, who would be my fire of love amongst the very poor — the sick, the dying, the little street children,” Jesus told her. “The poor I want you to bring to me and the sisters that would offer their lives as victims of my love would bring these souls to me. You are, I know, the most incapable person, weak and sinful, but just because you are that, I want to use you for my glory! Wilt thou refuse?”

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